SOMETIMES THE BEST LEADERSHIP MESSAGES COME FROM ATHLETIC ANGELS.
Recovering your financial position in the midst of an economic downturn takes courage. Finding the right strategy to focus your thinking and energies is critical to business success. Sometimes, the learnings from other areas of hardship and striving can be usefully applied to the world of business.
For example, in undertaking training for international events, some athletes employ philosophical thinking and strategic psychology to gain the winning edge. This approach to winning the game is useful for business leaders and managers seeking to re-group, refuel and restore financial solvency.
In September 2002 in North America, I met an Olympic athlete who encouraged me to continue mixing my sports training with further studies. I met Anne-Marie in Westport, Connecticut (CT), USA when she was the neighbour of my Friends of the United Nations Association home-stay family. She was the morning training coach in her local neighbourhood for post-operative patients who were gently resuming their life at home after hospital stays.
These days we would consider her work to be like an occupational therapist or rehabilitation counsellor. Either way, Anne-Marie was very much in-demand given her skill set and local community. On Mother’s Day, it is good to remember her contributions to practicing health, wealth and happiness with others.
Westport is an area of the New England within commuting distance of Yale University in New Haven, CT. It is a green-belt area and near Greens Farms train station, CT. The area is known for its large houses on massive tracts of land with rambling gardens and sunken fish ponds the size of swimming pools. It is a wooded area with a natural abundance of flora and fauna.
Given its proximity to woodlands and the Maritimes, this residential retreat area attracts many business owners, writers and academics, creative artists and designers from New York. Residents are seeking a more rural existence but within one hour’s drive of the Big Apple.
Going for a walk in the New England woods or a trip to the local ice-creamery could be an opportunity to ‘celebrity spot’. Think of Hollywood power couples such as (the now late) Paul Newman with Joanna Woodward, and Elaine Taylor with Christopher Plummer, as well as broadcast personality Martha Stewart, as your near neighbours.
Accomplished American Olympic star Anne-Marie, stood head-and-shoulders among the glitzy and glamorous show business entrepreneurs. She reminded me of the actress Doris Day with her sunny personality and energy – just like so many Australian women who pursue their favourite sport to see the world.
In 2002, Anne-Marie was a business woman and trainer-coach intent on helping her neighbour to recover from his recent heart operation. She was being a supportive friend to her neighbourly couple next door. I admired her approach to life. Each day of my visit, this American Olympian took me, my adopted family and a golden retriever dog for a walk in the New England woods.
Anne-Marie knew how to encourage someone to open up about their hospital intervention and re-focus their outlook on life to promote good health and wellness. She was a friend who listened to both sides of the heart operation drama with compassion for gentle persistence when healing.
During one of the walks, Anne-Marie told me about her philosophy regarding business life and sports training. She gave me plenty of examples, but one stuck in my mind as it was so close to home for me. She told me that as an American athlete, she had competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and won a silver medal in a track and field event.
We talked about sports in Australia and what it was like to be an athlete in America representing her country overseas. Her neighbours listened in. Anne-Marie said she’d loved being in Australia for the Olympic Games and could happily have lived in Melbourne forever – were it not for her family ‘back home’ and her highly-paid job. As an Olympian, she was still business focused and determined to succeed.
Back in late 1956, Anne-Marie took her return travel to the USA as an Olympic sports hero. She resumed her job with a New Jersey shipping company. She took in her Olympic medal to work to show her colleagues and clients and talked of her sporting time in Australia.
Anne-Marie loved to win. Her Olympic Games medal is a family heirloom.
Back in 2002, to encourage me to continue with my further studies, Anne-Marie gave me a couple of her sports psychology stories. Though an Olympic athlete, she applied her winning approach equally to the business world and succeeded. I thought to share one of her stories with you as it points to the need for triage in business.
While Australians love their beer (and who doesn’t enjoy a cold one on a summer’s day), the lesson of Anne-Marie’s amusing story might assist our thinking. As together we face this unexpected economic downturn, we need to focus and triage to make the right financial and business decisions for the long-term. Gently communicating with others in the world is a good start during this difficult time.
Note: clicking onto the next weblog will bring up Anne-Marie’s story of ‘Hard rocks and beer’ .
Copyright of text Fiona Rothchilds 2020.
Uploaded 10 May 2020.